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Urban ecology

La Rochelle, a breath of fresh air

When the subject of the environment, the name of La Rochelle is often mentioned in the same breath. The image of the city is indissociable from the idea of quality of life, such is the strength of the resolve to keep La Rochelle beautiful and make it a model for towns of the future.
Its buses run on Diester. Its campsites are equipped with solar water heating. At La Rochelle, the environmental issues reflect an art of living. With its yellow bicycles, self-service bicycles, electric cars and public transport using alternative methods, Greater La Rochelle has been a pioneer figure since 1971. Here people have been talking about urban ecology for over thirty years.

The Urban Transport Plan (UTP)

Priority is given to alternative modes of transport (bicycles, bus, boats, and electric vehicles). Signed in October 2000, the UTP reflects the charter's objectives as regards transport. The accent is on reorganising transports and reducing car traffic. The car's place has been rethought. Relay car parks and their shuttles from the town periphery encourage all employees (private and public) to use public transports. The formula's effectiveness has won over nearly 800 users.
This new arrangement involves all the communes of greater La Rochelle, the Region and the ADEME (Environmental and Energy Wise Agency) in thinking of ways to reduce our overall greenhouse gas emissions. Beginning with a CO2 survey to identify the sectors with most emissions (transports, buildings), a whole raft of actions is implemented in a coherent way (ecologically responsible administration, aids for renewable energies, for alternative fuels, reduction of waste at source, integration of the environmental dimension into city planning –energy efficiency of buildings -, etc.).

The means to the end

Solar and Wind Energies
60 solar panels at the Port-Neuf campsite and 48 at the gym at Les Minimes. 1,600 m2 solar panels at Villeneuve-les-Salines provide hot water for 800 shared housing units from June to September.
21 parking meters with integrated solar panels.
Drafting of a local wind power plan (discussion document). The Greater La Rochelle community is one of the first to make a survey of suitable sites for wind power generators.

Air quality
28 foot itineraries and 5 exploration footpaths serve the conurbation, making 250 kilometres
350 yellow bicycles on loan and for hire
6 stations open to the public to borrow one of the 60 free bicycles available 24h/24.
150 kilometres of cycle itineraries criss-cross the town and its environs
5 stations measure air quality every day. The Atmo index is post at Environment Information Points and on the Internet. Atmo (air quality monitoring association) has its headquarters at La Rochelle. It takes measurements in all the region's urban areas with over 10,000 inhabitants.

Noise
In 1981 a special contract was signed with the Ministry of the Environment to fight noise. A Noise pollution Commission was created, run by the Public Health & Environmental Hygiene Department with the Prefecture, the Police and representatives of establishments catering for the public using amplified music to reduce noise pollution, along with a program of awareness building and education (motorbikes, night bars, etc.).

Natural spaces
1,013 acres of parks and public gardens within the walls (including the Parc Charruyer 70 acres, the Parc F. Delmas 16 acres, the Parc Kennedy 16.5 acres, the Parc des Minimes .8 acres, the Porte Royal Park 5.5 acres, the Casino Park and d'Orbigny Park 6.2 acres, the Parc des Pères 5 acres and the Parc Pierre Loti 1 acre, etc.
Two nature reserves: the marshes of Pampin to the North and Tasdon to the South which celebrates 20 years of existence in 2006. Today, it is 110 acres with a project to extend it in the near future.
The Relais-Nature at la Moulinette, an environmental educational and nature discovery facility.


© La Rochelle 2008